a+u’s May issue features Francis Kéré, a Berlin-based architect originally from the West African nation of Burkina Faso. His earliest work, Gando Primary School, demonstrated a design process that embraces the cultural and material roots of a place and its people, and as the Gando project expanded in scope to include other social amenities, Kéré’s architecture became a tool of community building and empowerment. This architecture of humanism relies on the metaphor of the palaver tree, under which a community gathers and knowledge is formed and transmitted. Kéré enriches local, basic materials and traditional know-how with thoughtful and forward-looking technological and ecological concepts, creating a sustainable, low-cost, and high-performance architecture that serves as a model for the Global South. Opening with Gando Primary School and ending with ongoing construction projects, furniture pieces, and exhibitions, this monograph presents 34 works. In addition to texts by Kéré and guest editor Andres Lepik, 3 essays by younger architects of African origins situate Kéré’s work in the broader context of architecture and urbanization in the African continent, invoking issues of translatability, authenticity, justice, community, and empowerment.
Text in English and Japanese.